Progressive Breakfast for August 28

Morning Message

The Economy: Beneath the Din

Donald Trump’s “barstool eruptions” fill the news shows, but Trump seems tame compared to the economic headlines. The stock market craters and then bounces back. Growth for the second quarter is revised up to 3.7%, even as CBO revises its projection for this year down from 2.9% to 2.0%. The dollar is up and inflation is down, yet the Federal Reserve is talking itself into hiking interest rates. The owner of our office building decided to put TVs into the elevators, all tuned loudly to the babbling heads on CNBC. One thing is clear amid the din: these economic weather-vanes don’t have a clue which way the wind is blowing. So to help clear the murk, here’s a bit of common sense.

Labor Board Ruling Boosts Right To Unionize

In landmark case, labor board will let more workers bargain with their employer’s employer. Washington Post: “A federal labor board voted Thursday to redefine the employee-employer relationship granting new bargaining powers to workers caught up in an economy increasingly reliant on subcontractors, franchisees and temporary staffing agencies. The decision by the National Labor Relations Board could upend the traditional arms-length relationship that has prevailed between corporate titans such as McDonald’s and its neighborhood fast-food franchises. And it comes as concerns are growing about a generation of new Internet-fueled business such as Uber and Lyft that depend heavily on independent contractors.”

New ruling could give fast-food workers more power to unionize. Christian Science Monitor: “A major ruling handed down on Thursday by the US National Labor Relations Board could give unions greater bargaining power by enabling them to negotiate directly with large parent companies like McDonald’s that rely heavily on franchisees and contractors. The board in a 3-2 decision ruled that an existing standard that said companies only qualify as “joint employers” of workers hired by another business if they had “direct and immediate” control over employment matters was outdated and did not reflect the realities of the 21st century workforce. The ruling said parent companies can be held liable for labor violations committed by franchisees and contractors even when they have only indirect control. It is expected to impact a broad range of US industries built on franchising and contract labor, from fast food and hospitality to security and construction.

Obama in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Obama, in New Orleans, Praises Results of Federal Intervention. New York Times: “President Obama came to this once-stricken city on Thursday to make a case for his entire presidency: that when disaster strikes, the federal government should help not only to rescue the stranded but also to rebuild better and fairer than before. … The president explicitly linked New Orleans’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina, which struck 10 years ago this month, to the nation’s recovery from the 2008 recession. “That’s the story of New Orleans, but that’s also the story of America,” he said.”

Obama praises New Orleans’ recovery from disaster. Politico: “‘What started out as a natural disaster became a man-made disaster — a failure of government to look out for its own citizens,’ the president said. In that light, Obama said he considers the city’s rebirth over the last decade ‘remarkable.’ ‘Because this is a city that slowly, unmistakably, together, is moving forward,’ he said. ‘Because the project of rebuilding here wasn’t just to to restore the city as it had been. It was to build a city as it should be – a city where everyone, no matter what they look like or how much money they’ve got, where they come from, where they’re born, has a chance to make it.'”

GOP Presidential Race

Trump Proposals Risk Deepening GOP Rift on Immigration. ABC News: “Donald Trump has exposed anew the deep rift inside the Republican Party on immigration, a break between its past and the country’s future that the party itself has said it must bridge if the GOP ever hopes to win back the White House. … Some Republicans then hoped candidates with more moderate positions on immigration — such as Jeb Bush, the Spanish-speaking former Florida governor, or Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami native and son of Cuban parents — would rise during the 2016 campaign and boost the party’s appeal to Hispanic voters. Instead, it’s Trump — with his call to deport everyone living in the U.S. illegally and eliminate birthright citizenship — who has surged to the top of the summertime polls, reinforcing the lasting power of white, conservative voters who the GOP has courted for decades and continue to dominate the party’s presidential primaries.”

Eric Cantor endorses Jeb Bush for president. CNN: “Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor endorsed presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Thursday. ‘Governor Bush is a true conservative leader with a long-term vision for this country and the practical know-how to implement it,’ Cantor said in a statement. ‘After eight years of anemic growth and declining international relevance, America needs a president that can re-energize our nation and recapture our greatness — Jeb Bush is that man. I look forward to working closely with the governor and his team as they chart a course to the White House.'”